# 2023-Mar-16: Schwarzenegger Reminds Us (Again) To Do Better

Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps making sense, even when nobody else does.

# 2023-Mar-15: COVID-19 Disgraces

How has the US performed vis à vis COVID-19? Are we learning to do better?

# 2023-Mar-14: Pi Day 2023

Today is Pi Day (3/14) in 2023. Sort of.

# 2023-Mar-02: Another Grim Anniversary

As if the world weren’t bad enough, today there’s evidence that Russian casualties in Ukraine have topped 150,000 dead.

# 2023-Feb-15: On ChatGPT and Its Ilk

Somebody just summarized for me the exact nature of ChatGPT.

# 2023-Feb-14: On the Base Rate Fallacy, Redux

Will we ever not be trapped by the base rate fallacy?

# 2023-Feb-07: Tripitaka Koreana

Today I learned about the Tripitaka Koreana: likely the most successful large data transfer over time in human history.

# 2023-Jan-27: FDA VRBPAC: COVID-19 Vaccine Composition Going Forward

The FDA VRBPAC (Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) met this week to discuss the composition of vaccines going forward. In particular, should we consolidate on a series of bivalent shots instead of the current mixture of old and new?

# 2023-Jan-01: L'état du blog: 2022

Another calendar year down; also another annus horribilis. Let’s review what happened in this Crummy Little Blog That Nobody Reads (CLBTNR), and studiously avoid the more daunting task of reviewing 2022.

# 2022-Dec-05: Two Trolley Problems

Today I found 2 interesting takes on the Trolley Problem.

# 2022-Nov-28: Blog Comments Temporarily Disabled

Comments on this Crummy Little Blog That Nobody Reads (CLBTNR) are temporarily disabled, due to Heroku lossge.

# 2022-Nov-27: Japan at the 2022 World Cup: A Classy Act

Apparently there has been some unusual fan conduct at the World Cup?

# 2022-Nov-21: The Weekend Editrix's Flu & Bivalent Booster Adventures (And Why She Went Through Them)

Today the Weekend Editrix got her annual flu vax and COVID-19 bivalent booster. Let’s look at why that’s a good idea for all of us.

It seems Twitter is dying. Time to armor plate this blog so quote tweets survive.

# 2022-Nov-12: Some Good News About COVID-19

We just may be turning the corner.

# 2022-Nov-09: Svante Pääbo Nobel Prize

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to Svante Pääbo.

# 2022-Nov-07: Today I Got Shot… For the 12th Time

Today I got my 12th vaccination since 2020! Really.

# 2022-Nov-05: Why Vote in 2022 in the US?

So, are you wondering if it’s worthwhile to bestir yourself to vote?

# 2022-Nov-02: Two Things I Don't Understand

Sometimes there’s nothing to do but confess one’s own ignorance.

# 2022-Oct-26: Today I Voted in the 2022 Mid-Terms

So, today I voted.

# 2022-Oct-24: Paxlovid in the Wild Redux

What do we know about the people for whom paxlovid works really well?

# 2022-Oct-18: On COVID-19 Antivirals: Real-World Experience

Our newest COVID-19 antiviral medicines, molnupiravir and paxlovid, have been out for a while now. What’s the real-world experience on efficacy?

# 2022-Oct-07: Greetings from Japan

We finally got to return to Japan to visit the Weekend Editrix’s mother!

# 2022-Sep-26: Petrov Day #39: Again Celebrating the Day the World Did NOT End

Today the world still did not end, for the 39th time in a row.

# 2022-Sep-23: New SARS-CoV2 Variants… Again!

Tired of COVID-19? Me too. But… apparently the SARS-CoV2 virus is not yet tired of us!

# 2022-Sep-20: On the Reproducibility of Twitter Polls

Everybody knows Twitter polls are… questionable. But are they reproducible?

# 2022-Sep-10: On Timing the Next Bivalent Booster for Omicron COVID-19

Somebody asked me when we’d be getting the new bivalent COVID-19 boosters. (Not if but when.) Since we’ve both recently had COVID-19, that requires a bit of a think.

# 2022-Sep-06: Nucleocapsid Abs & Severe COVID-19

Somebody asked me a couple months ago about the significance of high nucleocapsid antibodies in unvaccinated people compared to the vaccinated. Now there’s another paper exploring the meaning of N ab levels. Let’s see what it says!

# 2022-Sep-04: COVID-19 Chez Weekend: Index of Posts

This is an index to all the Weekend Reading blog posts about our experience of the two of us having COVID-19 here at Chez Weekend.

# 2022-Aug-31: US FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization for Bivalent Classic/Omicron COVID-19 Vaccines

Today the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to both Pfizer and Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccines for classic and Omicron/BA.4/5 variants.

# 2022-Aug-29: On Authoritarian Cops in the US

Cops in the US are a hot mess of authoritarianism, viewing themselves as an occupying army. They’re sufficiently out of hand that the “defund the police” movement is starting to look like the side with the cool-headed, sensible arguments.

# 2022-Aug-23: COVID-19: One Month Later

It’s been a month since we were exposed to COVID-19 here at Château Weekend, testing positive 2 days later. Surely it must all be over, right? Right? Ahem.

# 2022-Aug-19: COVID-19: Day 25

So… 25 days into the COVID-19 journey. Is it over yet?

# 2022-Aug-15: COVID-19: Day 21

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

# 2022-Aug-11: COVID-19: Day 17

So… are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

# 2022-Aug-09: COVID-19: Day 15

So… 15 days into COVID-19.

# 2022-Aug-08: COVID-19: The Power of Positive Thinking

People are always telling me to “think positive”. I hate it.

# 2022-Aug-05: COVID-19: How Bad Was the Unemployment?

Let’s see how job losses and rebounds (not COVID-19 rebounds, this time) look for the pandemic, compared to previous episodes of economic unpleasantness.

# 2022-Aug-04: COVID-19: Paxlovid Rebound, or COVID-19 Rebound?

Is “paxlovid rebound” because of paxlovid, or because there are just a lot of COVID-19 rebounds?

# 2022-Aug-02: COVID-19 & Paxlovid: After Day 8

Today is day 8 of my COVID-19 + paxlovid personal experience, i.e., 3 days past the last dose. Time to check for rebound infection.

# 2022-Jul-30: COVID-19 & Paxlovid: After Day 5

Today I took my last dose of paxlovid.

# 2022-Jul-29: COVID-19 & Paxlovid: After Days 3-4

Closing in on the 5th day of COVID, i.e., 4th day of paxlovid treatment.

# 2022-Jul-27: COVID-19 & Paxlovid: After Day 2

It’s now 2 days into my course of paxlovid for COVID-19.

# 2022-Jul-26: COVID-19 & Paxlovid: After Day 1

It’s now 1 day into my course of paxlovid for COVID-19.

# 2022-Jul-25: COVID-19 & Paxlovid: Day 0, Testing Positive & Getting Prescribed

Today your humble Weekend Editor finally tested positive for COVID-19. Sigh.

# 2022-Jul-21: While the World Burns

Everybody (well, every non-Republican) in the US is mad at Democratic Senator Manchin for being the vote blocking any meaningful climate change legislation at all. Well… there are a few other things to be mad about, right?

# 2022-Jul-20: Mysterious Fences and Varnished Onions

Two parables struck my eye this week: GK Chesterton’s Fence, and Primo Levi’s Onion in the Varnish. Do they counsel actions that are opposite, or the same?

# 2022-Jul-12: Is COVID-19 Omicron/BA.4-5 the Most Infectious Viral Disease in Human History?

Somebody asked me about how seriously we should take the COVID-19 Omicron/BA.4-5 variants, given that so many people are “done with COVID” and refuse to mask. Response: basically, we should take it very seriously; people without masks are being very silly. Silly in a deadly fashion, irresponsible to the health of the rest of us. To answer the titular question: yes, unfortunately, it appears so.

# 2022-Jul-08: SCOTUS Atrocities, 2022 Edition

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has a 6-3 conservative majority. Have the cases and decisions become any different as a result?

# 2022-Jul-01: Retirement: 2 Years In, And …

It seems I’ve been retired for 2 years now. What can 2 years of perspective tell us?

# 2022-Jun-28: FDA VRBPAC: Omicron-Specific COVID-19 Boosters?

Today the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met to consider whether to add Omicron-specific vaccines to the mix, and how that policy should be set. Wanna read along to see what they do?

# 2022-Jun-24: My Brief But Spectacular Career as a Lawnmower Battery Surgeon

My lawnmower needed a new battery, but they’re no longer made. So I made one of my own.

# 2022-Jun-23: On Biomarkers for Long COVID-19

Some crazy people are suspicious that Long COVID-19 is not a real thing. So we’re gratified here at Chez Weekend to find papers documenting some biomarkers for it that look pretty good!

# 2022-Jun-22: Remastered Film: Paris in the 1920s

Ever wonder how the past really looked? Not the jerky, off-speed, black & white silent stuff, but as if you were really there? Some video restorers are trying to recreate those experiences.

# 2022-Jun-21: On the Efficacy of COVID-19 Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have been controversial: people continue to object loudly and strongly to things like masking, social distancing, and closures of schools and workplaces. We now have some retrospective data: how have each of those measures performed, in terms of live saved for the complaints they’ve caused?

# 2022-Jun-16: US Vaccination Rates: How's Your County Doing?

How thorough are vaccination rates in the US? And how geographically inhomogeneous?

# 2022-Jun-12: On the Lifetime of Conspiracies

The world is full of conspiracy theories, more than I recall ever being the case in the past, before social media. How reasonable is it to expect that a conspiracy can (a) depend on secrecy, (b) involve a large number of people, and (c) survive for more than a couple years? Not very, according to a probabilistic model!

# 2022-Jun-08: Readout of Moderna Bivalent Classic/Omicron Vaccine

Today the Moderna trial of a bivalent classic/Omicron COVID-19 vaccine read out. Looks pretty good, so a regulatory filing with the FDA is pending.

# 2022-Jun-07: FDA VRBPAC Meeting: Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine

Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met to advise the FDA on whether to approve Novavax’s more traditional protein (non-mRNA) vaccine against COVID-19. Want to know who said what?

# 2022-Jun-03: COVID-19: Immunity Types and Real Prevalence

Two questions: what do we know about disease-induced vs vaccine-induced immunity, and what is the actual prevalence of COVID-19 beyond “officially reported” cases? Now there’s some data to think about here, though we can’t completely answer those questions.

# 2022-Jun-02: Paxlovid in the Wild

An Israeli group has studied the use of paxlovid to treat COVID in a large group of age-stratified patients vs the SARS-CoV2 Omicron variant. The results are interesting, and a bit different from what I’d expected.

# 2022-Jun-01: Upcoming FDA VRBPAC Meetings

Three meetings of the FDA’s VRBPAC advisors on vaccines are coming up this month.

# 2022-May-28: The Outer Limits of Chocolate Art

Have you ever eaten a giraffe?

# 2022-May-25: Japan's COVID-19 Control: A Great Success

Japan has done a quantitatively great job protecting Japanese citizens from COVID-19. What can we learn from them (about this, and so many other things)?

# 2022-May-22: Hank Green, John Green, and the Great Asymmetry

Videos by “vlogbrothers” Hank & John Green on the despair of the times led me to a WH Auden poem and an essay by Stephen Jay Gould on the ease of destruction vs the triviality of destruction. Also, a quick stop to visit Virgil (not via Inferno). Few can build; anybody can burn.

# 2022-May-21: Sibylla Bostoniensis: Getting Paxlovid in Massachusetts

Siderea at Sibylla Bostoniensis today published a useful guide to getting prescribed paxlovid in Massachusetts, should you have the misfortune to find yourself testing positive for COVID-19.

# 2022-May-19: How to Waste Russian Government Time

I can’t say I entirely approve of this. But I do understand the desire to inconvenience the Russian government given the Ukraine invasion, and the humor involved in the chosen method.

# 2022-May-18: COVID-19: Officially 1 Million US Dead

[Tone warning: Angry post.] We reached yesterday a grim and disgraceful milestone in the US, having at least 1 million COVID-19 dead. And that’s just the official count.

# 2022-May-13: But What's in Your Heart?!

A plaintive cry I hear with regrettable frequency from non-science/non-math types is that we are all heartless. “But what’s really in your heart?!” they whine. Today, I’ll show you.

# 2022-May-12: What's in the Moderna 2022-Q1 Earnings Call?

Apparently Moderna just had an earnings call, and there was some talk of whether multivalent Omicron boosters could be available in time for fall/winter 2022/2023.

# 2022-May-11: Which Arm Gets the Booster?

A burning question for everybody who’s gotten a booster, or wants one: the same arm, or the other arm?

# 2022-May-10: Compassion for the Unvaccinated

I have a hard time controlling my anger at the unvaccinated, the spreaders of disinformation, and the superstitious for prolonging the pandemic and killing people world-wide. Others, who are likely better people than me, have managed to find another way.

# 2022-May-08: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US, Redux

Remember last year when we noted the highest-vaccination ethnic group in the US? They’re still winning, and it shows in the statistics.

# 2022-May-06: The Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Landscape

What sort of progress is being made on pancoronavirus vaccines?

# 2022-May-03: How Can Evusheld Possibly Work?!

Evusheld is an antibody infusion which confers about 6 months of vaccine-like immunity to COVID-19. How can that possibly work, when antibodies last a few days to a few weeks?!

# 2022-May-02: No Masks + New Wave = ?

Somehow we’ve stumbled into striking down mask mandates. Who did that? AND is it ok, with the next wave situation of SARS-CoV2? Do you even have to guess?

# 2022-May-01: It's Always Been 2 Americas for COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought to light a lot of disparities in the US. Today’s scientific paper is about just how certainly we know the Trumpy parts of the country, especially the South, were COVID-19 disasters: hundreds of thousands of excess deaths due to mask defiance, vaccine refusal, and malign conservative disinformation.

# 2022-Apr-30: Preventive Paxlovid Fails

Pfizer just read out a Phase 2/3 trial of paxlovid for preventing transmission of COVID-19 to other members of a household when one member is infected. Alas: nope.

# 2022-Apr-29: Too Much AND Too Little COVID-19?!

Recently 2 Trump-appointed judges in the US have ruled that they can overturn Biden policies because there is simultaneously too much COVID-19 and too little COVID-19. They’re not even pretending to be rational any more.

# 2022-Apr-28: Weekend Editrix Shot For the 7th Time

Today the Weekend Editrix got shot for the 7th time in the trailing 12 months, having gotten her 2nd booster for COVID-19.

# 2022-Apr-25: Japan's Shionogi Ltd. Has Another COVID-19 Antiviral in Late-Stage Trials

Some good news: there’s now another COVID-19 antiviral drug candidate that has the same target as paxlovid in late clinical trials.

# 2022-Apr-18: Ivermectin vs Strongyloidiasis Paper Published

Somebody asked me about the evidence associating putative ivermectin effects with worms, not COVID-19. Seems like it’s been finally published!

# 2022-Apr-16: The Perks of a PhD in Finland

Today I found out that I missed out a bit by getting my PhD anywhere but Finland.

# 2022-Apr-14: Passover & Late-Stage Capitalism

So, it’s Passover. What might late-stage capitalism have to say about that?

# 2022-Apr-08: FDA VRBPAC Meeting on Booster & Vaccine Variant Policy

This week the FDA’S Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met to consider future policy for vaccine boosters and variants for the future.

# 2022-Apr-01: Today: Shot for the 7th time

Today I got my 7th vaccination shot in the last 12 months. Happily.

# 2022-Mar-27: US Republicans Against Interracial Marriage?!

A Republican US Senator says he would allow states to ban interracial marriage. What?!

Somebody asked me to put a headshot up on this crummy little blog that nobody reads (CLBTNR). No idea why, but…

# 2022-Mar-25: On the Tension Between Hope and Despair

I feel I’m walking a knife-edge between hope and despair. The news is not helping.

# 2022-Mar-19: Some Unexpected Inspiration on Russia & Ukraine

Today I came across an unexpected source of encouragement in the matter of Russia and Ukraine.

# 2022-Mar-18: COVID-19: Lessons Learned & Another Booster

We would like to think we’ve learned a few things from our collective COVID-19 experience, but the evidence is somewhat equivocal. What we’ve definitely learned is that there will almost certainly be another booster.

# 2022-Mar-14: Reflection on Pi Day

Today is Pi Day (3/14), so we reflect upon π.

Yesterday we went to the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the first time in, obviously, years.

# 2022-Mar-11: XKCD: Qua

XKCD qua XKCD is just XKCD. Latin does things to your mind.

# 2022-Mar-09: Rethinking NPIs and Vaccinations

People are clamoring for an end to “restrictions”, by which they mean masks and closures. And, of course, vaccination mandates. They’re eager to be done with COVID-19, whether COVID-19 is done with them or not. Does any of that make sense? Well… some of it… maybe.

# 2022-Mar-07: Ivermectin Revenant

Somebody asked about a recently published abstract comparing ivermectin vs remdesivir in treating COVID-19. (Sigh.)

# 2022-Mar-04: On the Difficulty of Making Paxlovid

Somebody asked me why we don’t have enough paxlovid or bebtelovimab to go around. After mumbling “something something supply chain”, they ask another question: why can’t we just make more, and faster? Far from being naïve, that’s a very good question.

# 2022-Mar-01: Ukraine & Russia: A Lack of Thoughts

Somebody asked me why I haven’t said anything about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Well…

# 2022-Feb-26: Masterful Data Journalism on US Political Resistance to COVID-19 Vaccines

Joss Fong at Vox just put together an explainer on political defiance of COVID-19 vaccines in the US. It’s one of the best pieces of data journalism lite (i.e., no equations) and graphic design for explanation that I’ve ever seen.

# 2022-Feb-23: Pessimism and Optimism

Somebody asked me why I’m always so dour. Well, times are hard: pandemic waves, disinformation & death, potential nuclear war over Ukraine, the rise of the fascist right, climate change not only unchecked but furiously denied, and so on. So let’s take some inventory of our problems… and maybe a few points that (may) cause hope for the future.

# 2022-Feb-19: Republicans Still a Death Cult?!

Yesterday came simultaneous bits of evidence in the US that (a) COVID-19 death rates for unvaccinated are unambiguously disastrous, and (b) Republicans attempted to defund any school that takes COVID-19 protections. This is ‘death cult’ levels of badness.

# 2022-Feb-15: Sustaining Spirit in Hard Times: People are Complicated

Times are difficult, here in the 3rd year of a global pandemic that drags on and on, because people just cannot grasp the importance of public health measures and vaccination. Anything that sustains our spirit and our belief in a good core of human nature is important. So why am I looking at dog statues on bridges in Prague?

# 2022-Feb-13: The Shame of the Anti-Vaxxers

The shameful behavior of the anti-vaxxers has reached intolerable levels. It’s been extremely bad for a while, but now they’re picking off prominent scientists and public intellectuals with death threats.

# 2022-Feb-11: FDA VRBPAC To Consider Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 6mo - 4yr

On Monday 2022-Feb-15 the FDA’s VRBPAC will meet to consider Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for ages 6mo - 2yr. It worked for 6mo - 2yr, but not for 2yr - 4yr. A 3rd dose is being tested for 2yr - 4yr, but the FDA invited this application so parents can get their kids started on the first 2 doses while waiting for data on the 3rd. Unusual? Very!

# 2022-Feb-09: On the Moderna Monkey Trial of Omicron-Specific Boosters

Somebody asked me about a report that Moderna’s monkey trial of an Omicron-specific booster wasn’t any better than the existing vaccine. What should we think about that?

# 2022-Feb-08: On the Importance of Nagging the Unvaccinated

It’s important that we keep nagging people to get vaccinated, at escalating levels of unpleasantness. Let me show you why.

# 2022-Feb-07: SARS-CoV2 Cryptic Sequences in NYC Wastewater: Why Not to Sleep Well at Night

As long as we’ve got our heads in the sewers, what else is happening with wastewater SARS-CoV2 analyses? It turns out, New York City rather alarmingly has some “cryptic sequences” not yet observed in humans. This is how the virus is scheming to throw another wave at us.

# 2022-Feb-04: Boston Wastewater Re-Re-Visited: Sewage Viral RNA vs COVID-19 Cases and Deaths

In 2020-November and 2021-May, we looked at the SARS-CoV2 mRNA in Boston wastewater. It’s relation to medical loads was erratic. How’s it look with another 9 months of data?

# 2022-Jan-31: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine fully FDA-approved

Good news: the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, aka ‘Spikevax’, is now fully FDA-approved!

# 2022-Jan-31: When You Say 'I Did My Own Research'… What Does That Sound Like to Actual Research Scientists?

Lots people say ‘I did my own research’ on subjects in which they are not sufficiently educated to evaluate data, let alone form an independent opinion reliably. Here’s what that sounds like to actual research scientists.

# 2022-Jan-28: The Ten Billionth Dose

There have now been around 10 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses given. What should we make of that?

# 2022-Jan-21: Shameful BioPharma Donations to Insurrectionists

Regrettably, it has come to light that my former industry has some bad actors who are funding the Republican politicians who attempted to overthrow the last election. Who are these funders of insurrectionists, and once we know their companies can we shame them into stopping?

# 2022-Jan-19: Med-Chem Optimization of Paxlovid

Previously, we wrote about how hard it currently is to find paxlovid, given intense demand, supply chain frustrations, and the complex synthesis pathway. Today let’s have a look at how exactly one goes about discovering such a thing, with an improbable number of steps in its chemistry. (Hint: an awful lot of luck/serendipity was involved!)

# 2022-Jan-18: Comparing the US COVID-19 Pandemic to Other Countries

How’s the US pandemic doing in comparison to other countries, particularly those that Republicans love to diss?

# 2022-Jan-17: MLK Day 2022

Today in the US is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when we honor the civil rights advocate who pushed for rights for racial minorities and the poor, for which he was assassinated. How best should that honor be expressed?

# 2022-Jan-12: Paxlovid Availability vs the Omicron Wave

The Omicron wave is coming. Paxlovid is scarce. Which way will it go?

# 2022-Jan-11: Finding paxlovid

Paxlovid is a remarkable early therapeutic for people who’ve caught COVID-19. But… it’s very scarce for the next few months, ironically during the Omicron wave. Where can you score some paxlovid?!

# 2022-Jan-07: Tech Skepticism

It’s fashionable lately to be skeptical about technology. (Of everything, really.) Sometimes we don’t realize how deep are the roots of suspicion of innovation, and (usually) how wrong.

# 2022-Jan-06: Reeeeeeally long COVID!

How long can COVID-19 go on? If you answered less than $O(10^4)$ years until everyone with susceptible genes is dead… well, think again.

# 2022-Jan-02: Boston First Night: Best Ice Sculpture

Against best pandemic advice, First Night happened again in Boston. Wanna see a highlight?

# 2022-Jan-01: L'état du blog: 2021

A full calendar year of blogging has passed. So, thankfully, has the annus horribilis 2021CE. How did we come out? (The blog, that is. 2021 itself is still too traumatizing to discuss.)

# 2021-Dec-29: In Celebration of Mid-Winter Beauty

Winter is just objectively the best time of year. Do not attempt to correct me on this matter.

# 2021-Dec-25: Today the Webb Space Telescope Launched

Today the Webb Space Telescope launched successfully. Happy Christmas.

# 2021-Dec-15: Tis the Season… of the Analemma

It’s that season again: the time of nerdly meditations on the analemma. The shortest day of the year, Dec 21, is yet to come. But for night owls, the day of earliest sunset (at the latitude of Château Weekend) was Dec 8th. How can that be? That’s the tale of the analemma!

# 2021-Dec-14: Veni, veni paxlovid!

Today Pfizer announced they’ve submitted the final data package to the FDA for their COVID-19 anti-viral oral therapy, paxlovid. Wanna take a look at the (scant) data we have so far, as a holiday gift of sorts to all of humanity?

# 2021-Dec-10: The Weekend Editrix Exposed to COVID-19: An Adventure with Bayes Rule in Medical Testing

Last weekend, the Weekend Editrix was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. The need for rapid testing suddenly became very real for us. While waiting for the test to work, we worked out the Bayesian stats for the test: a positive test means near-100% chance of COVID-19, while a negative test means 89.4% chance of no COVID-19.

# 2021-Dec-09: FDA Grants EUA to AstraZeneca's Evusheld for COVID-19 Prevention

Guess what? Yesterday, the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization to another COVID-19 medication, Evusheld from AstraZeneca. Yeah… I didn’t know, either!

YLE has some important advice for all of us about surviving Omicron.

# 2021-Dec-06: Omicron vs Delta

Will the Omicron variant outcompete Delta? Starting to look like it. Will that be a bad thing? Dunno, could go either way depending on reinfection rate and severity.

# 2021-Dec-02: Mea Culpa: Efficacies Don't Average!

A couple days ago, commenting at TheZvi, I blithely averaged efficacies from the early and late cohorts of the molnupiravir trial. Fellow commenter Thomas pointed out that this is not correct! This post is a mea culpa and a lesson to myself on How to Do It Right.

# 2021-Nov-30: FDA AMDAC Considers Merck's Molnupiravir

Today the FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (AMDAC) meets to decide whether or not to recommend emergency use authorization (EUA) of Merck’s molnupiravir, and antiviral therapy for mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults. Wanna read along?

# 2021-Nov-27: So, nu? (I mean… So, omicron?)

There’s a new SARS-CoV2 variant. How bad does it look? Nobody really knows, but it’s got the potential to be very, very bad.

# 2021-Nov-23: COVID-19: Is it 'over'?

With vaccination rates rising (albeit glacially slowly), and new therapeutics like molnupiravir and paxlovid about to be approved, people are asking: is it over? My take is: probably not.

# 2021-Nov-19: A Couple Ivermectin Takedowns

The right-wing knuckleheadedness around ivermectin as a COVID-19 therapy continues to amaze me. This week I came across 2 ivermectin takedowns: a Malaysian clinical trial and Scott Alexander’s dissection of the ivmmeta.com metanalysis. Two thumbs down. Way down.

# 2021-Nov-16: COVID-19 Continues to Kill Conservatives

Charles Gaba has updated his county-level COVID-19 vax rates and death rates, versus percentage of Trump voters. It’s not pretty.

# 2021-Nov-12: On New COVID-19 Therapeutics

Vaccines are great, but now there are some exciting new treatments for COVID-19, in case you get a breakthrough infection (or made the wrong choice about accepting vaccination). Let’s look at how well they work, and what they might cost in comparison to other things.

# 2021-Nov-09: On kids and vaccines: ending the pandemic

If you think we can end the pandemic without vaccinating kids because they tend not to get so sick… think again. Try harder this time.

# 2021-Nov-08: Three Lessons from COVID

COVID-19 has taught us some lessons about (a) how mind-numbingly stupid and corrupt we can be, and (b) some forms of corruption that are so confusing that I can’t tell if they are the divine madness or instead just &Gammad;ΤΦ.

# 2021-Nov-01: When Was the Norse Settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland?

Hey, let’s think about something that’s not COVID-19! Like, for example: when exactly did the Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland happen?

# 2021-Oct-30: The Partisan Divide on COVID-19 Deaths

COVID-19 death rates in the US are nakedly partisan. So is mask resistance. So is delusional belief about nonsensical use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Care to draw a conclusion?

# 2021-Oct-27: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (for the 6th time!)

Today the Weekend Editrix got shot, also for the sixth time this year! It was pretty good.

# 2021-Oct-26: FDA VRBPAC Considers Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 – 11

Today the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meets to discuss an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty for children ages 5 – 11. Lots of parents have been awaiting this for the last year and a half, with varying degress of frayed nerves.

Well… are we?

# 2021-Oct-24: On 'Natural' Immunity Persistence vs COVID-19

What are the consequences of relying on ‘natural’ immunity after recovery from COVID-19? Pretty grim, as it turns out.

# 2021-Oct-22: Cops vs The Rest of Us: Mask Edition

Two NYPD transit cops forcibly ejected a citizen from a Manhattan subway station. His crime? Pointing out that the cops were not wearing masks, in contravention of a statewide mask mandate, and, for that matter, simple common sense and courtesy.

# 2021-Oct-20: State of the Blog at 1 Year

This crummy little blog that nobody reads has been around for a little more than a year. It’s time to look at the numbers and see how we’ve been doing.

# 2021-Oct-18: Vaccine Mandate Origins in the US

The history of why vaccine mandates are in fact constitutional in the United States has a long, somewhat twisted history. It’s also of local interest, here at Chez Weekend, as many of the important events transpired a short MBTA ride away.

# 2021-Oct-15: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for J&J and Mix/Match Boosters

Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen application for 2nd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine. They will also at least discuss the 3x3 mix-and-match booster study.

# 2021-Oct-14: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Moderna Spikevax

Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Moderna application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax. Wonderful name aside, there should be a good case to be made as well.

# 2021-Oct-05: The Man Who Wins New England Autumn

Today I learned of a hero, engaged in a Great Work that is clearly a service to all humanity. Oh, and there were donuts, too.

# 2021-Oct-04: COVID-19 Miscellany

Do you want the good news first?

# 2021-Sep-27: Today I got shot (for the 6th time!)

Today I got shot. Again. For the sixth time this year!

# 2021-Sep-26: Petrov Day #38: Remembering the Day the World Did NOT End

Today the world did not end. That’s 38 times in a row, now.

# 2021-Sep-25: Work Nightmares: A Fantasy of Fairness

Yes, discontent with the corporate system and rule by managers is a thing. As are the associated nightmares, and the corresponding fantasies of justice.

# 2021-Sep-18: On the Naming of Vaccines

Today I learned the commercial names of the COVID-19 vaccines. One of them is a real winner!

# 2021-Sep-17: FDA Considers COVID-19 Boosters for Pfizer Comirnaty

Today the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets to review the Pfizer/BioNTech application for 3rd dose boosters of their COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty. Opinion is divided, so there will be some arguing. I’m makin’ popcorn.

# 2021-Sep-16: Some days I feel like this dog

Problem-solving skills are important.

# 2021-Sep-14: Today I got shot (a fifth time)

Today I got shot for the fifth time this year. Again, not guns and not COVID, execrable as they both are. Influenza vaccination this time.

# 2021-Sep-13: On the ratio of Beta-distributed random variables

[Warning: Post contains full frontal nerdity. Bug reports appreciated!] I finally got a copy of Pham-Gia’s paper on the distribution of the ratio of 2 independent Beta-distributed random variables. While I still have some childhood trauma around hypergeometric functions like ${}_{2}F_{1}()$ and its even scarier big brother ${}_{3}F_{2}()$… it’s time to face my fears.

# 2021-Sep-11: On war memorials

Today marks 2 decades since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC, the Pentagon in DC, and a third target that was spared because airline passengers forced a crash in Shanksville, PA. It also marks, with the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, at least a winding down, though possibly not a complete ending, of 20 years of war. It’s time to think about war memorials… sort of.

# 2021-Sep-09: CFS & MIT PSFC build 20T REBCO magnet

Today Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) and MIT’s Plasma Science Fusion Center (PSFC) announced they have successfully built high-$T_c$ REBCO magnet capable of 20T field strength. What should that mean to you?

# 2021-Sep-07: The Madness of Vaccine Resistance

Have a quarter of us gone mad? It would seem so…

# 2021-Sep-06: Rosh Hashanah: A Chance to Start Over on Labor Day

Today is Labor Day in the US. It’s also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. What can we make of that coincidence, even without being Jewish?

# 2021-Sep-02: Are we wasting too much COVID-19 vaccine?

Today comes news that we’ve wasted about 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 doses here in the US. Is that a lot, or a little? How does it compare with history? Is the difference, if any, just random or is it real, i.e., statistically significant?

# 2021-Aug-31: Today I got shot (a fourth time)

Today I got shot for the fourth time this year. No, not the COVID-19 booster (yet). The second dose of Shingrix, for shingles.

# 2021-Aug-29: ZDoggMD on telling COVID stories to motivate vaccination

I’m a data-driven guy who detests persuasian by emotional anecdotes. But most people are, to my dismay, different in that regard. ZDoggMD does a good job today of persuading them.

# 2021-Aug-29: Vaccination vs Hospitalization Rates: Simpson's Paradox

Somebody asked me about why the vaccines are high efficacy with rare breakthrough infections, but we can see a high fraction of the hospitalized are vaccinated? Right, very puzzling. Then somebody else asked me what I thought of an article about Simpson’s paradox in the context of COVID. Ding, ding, ding, ding!

# 2021-Aug-23: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine fully FDA-approved

Good news: the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now fully FDA-approved!

# 2021-Aug-19: Two Predictions

From time to time, we make predictions here. Two of them were: high probability of COVID-19 vaccine boosters by fall 2021, and mRNA vaccines will dramatically change the future of vaccines. Guess what happened this week?

# 2021-Aug-18: COVID-19 Vaccines and Alzheimers: Analyzing the Myth

Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevented Alzheimers. Wait, what?

# 2021-Aug-17: COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility: Analyzing the Myth

Somebody asked me about whether the COVID-19 vaccine could cause infertility. Wait, what?

# 2021-Aug-04: Vaccine Efficacy, Delta Variant, and the CDC Changes

Last week several bombs were dropped: COVID vaccine efficacy with the Delta variant, breakthrough infections, asymptomatic carriers, and changes in CDC guidelines. Was the panicky media coverage at all useful?

# 2021-Jul-29: Anger Among the Vaccinated

Somebody asked me why vaccinated people in the US seemed to be always so angry at the unvaccinated. Hmpf.

# 2021-Jul-19: COVID-19 Vaccination is Better Than Natural Immunity

Periodically I meet people who think “natural” immunity from having had COVID-19 is somehow better than being vaccinated. A new Israeli study plumbs the depths of just how wrong that is.

# 2021-Jul-17: COVID Vaccines: Why Not Full Approval?

Somebody asked me a couple days ago why the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines don’t have full FDA approval. Umm… hmm. Good question.

# 2021-Jul-16: The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US

What ethnic group in the US do you think has the highest vaccination rate?

# 2021-Jul-12: Thoughts on Variants & Vaccines

The variants are starting to pile up. Unless we vaccinate everybody faster, there are going to be variants which evade vaccines and then we start all over. How close are we to that?

# 2021-Jul-12: Really, Republicans?

[Warning: US-centric, lefty political rant. If you’re from outside the US and want to laugh at us… well, fair enough: we’ve earned it.] I mean… really, Republicans? Do you seriously want to put up with politicians like this? For what possible reason? Why would you even want to be in the same party as people like this?

# 2021-Jun-30: ZDoggMD on the Delta Variant

Somebody asked me what I thought of ZDogg’s explanation of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. My first thought was “ZDogg who? Is that a rapper or something?” My final thought was that the guy’s eminently reasonable, eloquent, and kind.

# 2021-Jun-29: Today I got shot (a third time)

Today I got shot a third time! No, not a COVID-19 booster (though that’s getting pretty interesting, but its time is not yet). Today I got the first of 2 doses of the formerly-scarce Shingrix vaccine against shingles.

# 2021-Jun-10: US COVID-19: A Tale of Two Countries

As COVID-19 gradually comes under control in the US, we are becoming 2 countries: one that listends to science and medical advice, and another rather more backward. This leads to some startlingly disturbing contrasts in the news.

# 2021-Jun-07: Stock Diversifiers: Treasury vs Corporate Bonds?

If you invest in US stocks, you certainly want to diversify with some bonds for risk control, availability of funds for rebalancing, and earning some income. Should you use Treasury bonds (which earn approximately nothing, but are safe) or corporate bonds (which earn something, but are riskier)?

# 2021-May-21: Wastewater Revisited: Metagenomic Viral RNA and Medical Loads

Last November, we looked at metagenomics of sewage SARS-CoV-2 RNA vs medical loads in Boston. The results then were inconclusive. There’s a lot more data now. Does the mRNA in sewage actually predict anything useful about COVID hospital admission, ICU admission, ventilator use, and death? Yes, it does.

# 2021-May-12: More sense about vaccines from Hank Green

Hank Green once again has one or two true and useful words to say to young people about COVID-19 vaccination.

# 2021-May-10: Dracula and the vaccine

Romania has one of the highest vaccine hesitancy rates in Europe, around 50%. They’re starting to get… creative.

# 2021-May-06: Good news on vaccines vs variants!

Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.

# 2021-May-05: Immunity freedom day for the Weekend Editrix!

As of today, the esteemed Weekend Editrix is 2 weeks past her 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and thus as fully immunized as it’s possible to be right now. At 3pm EDT, she is officially out of COVID jail! Well, more or less…

# 2021-May-03: Reviewing Google Translate for These Blog Posts

A few weeks ago, we hooked up Google Translate for this blog. It’s time to review how well it’s been working… or not.

# 2021-Apr-30: CORVID 19

In Latin, “corvus” means crow. So the adjectival form used in biology for birds-such-as-crows is “corvid”. Sometimes people get confused in interesting ways.

# 2021-Apr-24: The Billionth Dose

As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.

# 2021-Apr-23: JnJ Revenant

Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly.

# 2021-Apr-21: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot (again)

Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. Again. (The good way.)

# 2021-Apr-19: Politics vs mask use & vaccine uptake in the US

Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.

# 2021-Apr-16: Another study of clotting and COVID vaccines

Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not?

# 2021-Apr-13: US pauses JnJ vaccine on thromboses

Today the US regulatory agencies “paused” the use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine to investigate thromboses, similar to what’s been seen with the AZ/OX vaccine. How many, how bad, and what will a pause do?

# 2021-Apr-08: Reading the RNA in the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines

Have you ever wondered if you could make sense of the RNA code in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if you could just read it? With some help, you can now do exactly that.

# 2021-Apr-07: Immunity freedom day!

As of today, your humble Weekend Editor is 2 weeks past the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. At 5pm, I am officially out of COVID jail! Right? Not quite…

# 2021-Apr-03: Pfizer/Moderna vaccine mRNA sequences posted on GitHub

Interestingly, some Stanford scientists saved a few drops of the Moderna vaccine, apparently ran them through their sequencers, and posted the sequences on GitHub.

# 2021-Apr-01: April foolishness

Today is April Fool’s Day. Attrapons le poisson d’avril!

# 2021-Mar-31: Today the Weekend Editrix got shot

Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. The good way: Pfizer/BioNTech PF-07302048/BNT162b2.

# 2021-Mar-30: Variants vs Vaccines

SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, in increasingly dangerous ways. Can we keep up with booster vaccines for the variants, or even eliminate it once and for all?

# 2021-Mar-30: Proposed Darwin Award for vaccine policy

Sometimes politicians pursue policies so breathtakingly out of touch with reality, you just don’t know what to say. (Understandably, because “breathtaking”.)

# 2021-Mar-24: Today I got shot (again)

Today I got shot (again). In the good sense: the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

# 2021-Mar-23: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine trial (and its further discontents!)

Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way.

# 2021-Mar-22: The pandemic year in retrospect

Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?

# 2021-Mar-17: The AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine vs Blood Clots

Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?

# 2021-Mar-15: US Senate: does one party filibuster more?

Sen McConnell claims the Democrats abuse the filibuster! (Because of course he does.) But what do the data say?

# 2021-Mar-14: Pi Day: Are you still using decimal notation?!

Today is Pi Day (3/14). You’re not still using decimal, are you?

# 2021-Mar-10: Republicans vs Herd Immunity

If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.)

# 2021-Mar-08: I guess I like Dolly Parton?!

There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea.

# 2021-Mar-03: Today I got shot

Today I got shot. No, not the bad way (though gun control is a legitimate issue in the US). I mean, with the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the appointment (and the 2nd dose) was Kafkaesque. The actual medical experience was pretty ok.

# 2021-Feb-26: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 review by FDA external advisory committee

Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents!

# 2021-Feb-24: Why did Republicans block a Trump impeachment guilty verdict?

It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment?

# 2021-Feb-11: Impeachment actions: sine qua non

So. US politics: it seems The Creature is being impeached. Again. What can we do to make sure the impeachment makes a difference this time?

# 2021-Feb-01: COVID-19 vaccines: the need for speed

Vaccine rollouts worldwide, with very few exceptions, have been slow & bungled. But we face a cruel equation: delay = death. Why do we tolerate this?

# 2021-Jan-29: JnJ COVID-19 vaccine interim readout: 57% - 72% efficacy, depending on… SOMETHING

Today Johnson & Johnson/Janssen announced the interim readout (not final numbers!) of their adenovirus-vector based COVID-19 vaccine: 72% efficacy in the US, down to 57% efficacy in South Africa. We previously described the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/Lonza vaccines as “beautiful”; this is “relatively pretty”. Pretty enough to do some good in the world, though.

# 2021-Jan-25: Today this blog got its first spam

Honestly, what sort of idiot tries to sell fake Viagra on an obscure, crummy little blog like this? And on an old post at that?! (Please don’t answer those rhetorical questions, especially if you actually know the answers.)

# 2021-Jan-20: The adults are finally back in charge!

Today was a good day: with the inauguration (and the constitutional mandate behind it) at 12:01pm, Biden & Harris and a (barely) Democratic Congress are back in charge in the US.

# 2021-Jan-16: Is 'natural' immunity any better than vaccine immunity to COVID-19?

Periodically, anti-vaxxers will say they prefer the ‘natural’ immunity acquired by recovering from a disease, because vaccines are ‘artificial’. Is that likely to be true for COVID-19? In a word: NO.

# 2021-Jan-14: COVID-19 loves Republican politicians

Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?

# 2021-Jan-12: Apropos of nothing in particular, what exactly is 'sedition'?

I was wondering what exactly it takes to commit ‘sedition’. Turns out, it’s kind of complicated. What with insurrection, threats to murder Representatives, Senators, and the Vice President last week, apparently everything is complicated.

# 2021-Jan-06: Democrats take Senate & Presidency; Republicans start insurrection & terrorism

Today was when the Electoral College was to have been certified in Congress, sealing the fate of the presidential election. It is also the day the Democrats attained a majority in the Senate. Alas, it is also the day Republicans incited insurrectionists and terrorists against the United States government.

# 2021-Jan-03: Formal scientific publication of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial

On 2020-Dec-30, the formal scientific publication of the Moderna’s COVID-19 Phase 3 trail in the prestigious New Englad Journal of Medicine dropped into public view. It’s good.

# 2020-Dec-31: The mutant coronavirus: will the vaccines still work?

Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation.

# 2020-Dec-30: Serious adverse event frequency: about like getting struck by lightning?

Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?

# 2020-Dec-29: Santa and the cops

Here at Chez Weekend, there’s a rumor circulating that on Christmas Eve, Santa got pulled over by the cops?!

# 2020-Dec-28: You're scaring me

You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live.

# 2020-Dec-21: Winter solstice, Dodds's Day, and the Weekend Editrix's Day

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.

# 2020-Dec-18: Moderna vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!

Yesterday was also a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at 5:20pm EST on 2020-Dec-17. Late today, the FDA agreed and granted the Emergency Use Authorization.

# 2020-Dec-18: XKCD explains it all

Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.

# 2020-Dec-15: Another beautiful vaccine: a look into the Moderna FDA EUA submission package

Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.

# 2020-Dec-14: My cat is a fin-de-siècle French night club cat?!

Apparently the Weekend Publisher, occasionally also known as “my cat”, is the reincarnation of the spirit animal of a fin-de-siècle cabaret in Paris.

# 2020-Dec-12: Are the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy confidence intervals sensible?

Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?

# 2020-Dec-10: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine passes FDA external advisory committee!

Today is a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at 6:30pm EST.

# 2020-Dec-08: A beautiful vaccine: a look into the Pfizer/BioNTech FDA EUA submission package

Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?

# 2020-Dec-02: Proposed source of the "Wow!" signal?

The sad news about Arecibo brings up the topic of SETI. In better news, an amateur astronomer has proposed a particular star as the source of the famous “Wow!” event, using the Gaia Archive. Wait, what?

# 2020-Nov-30: What size were the factions in the US election?

So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions?

# 2020-Nov-29: We need the Talmudic argument style… someday

Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now?

# 2020-Nov-27: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine interim readout (and its discontents)

Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.

# 2020-Nov-24: Some sense about vaccines from Hank Green

Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).

# 2020-Nov-19: Well, that was somewhat… unsatisfying

Today the AP finally called Georgia for Biden, after the hand recount. But the Senate still hangs fire until the runoff in January. And apparently, 73 million Americans somehow voted for Trump?!

# 2020-Nov-18: On COVID vaccine protection persistence

Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?

# 2020-Nov-16: Moderna/Lonza vaccine interim readout: 95% efficacy!

Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.

# 2020-Nov-09: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim readout: 90% efficacy!

Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.

# 2020-Nov-04: Wastewater coronavirus RNA vs medical loads

Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).

# 2020-Nov-02: Coronavirus & Elections: The Winter of Our Discontent

The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.

# 2020-Oct-24: At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to...

At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.

# 2020-Oct-15: Statins & ACE inhibitors & ARB blockers as COVID-19 therapeutics?

Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.

# 2020-Oct-06: Today I voted

Today I voted. You should too, if you’re an eligible US voter.

# 2020-Oct-02: Election Night of the Living Beta Binomials

As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more contentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?

# 2020-Sep-26: Petrov Day — The Day the World Didn't End

Today we commemorate 1983-Sep-26: the day Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov prevented the end the world. Go thou forth and do likewise: save as much of the world as you can.

# 2020-Sep-23: COVID points of hope and evaluating a vaccine

Looking for a glimmer of hope amid the COVID clouds? Worried about whether a vaccine will be appropriately safe & effective? You’ve come to the right place.

# 2020-Sep-02: What's in the Moderna Q2 earnings call?

Somebody asked me (different “somebody” this time, though the same subject) about the Moderna Q2 earnings call. Do I look like I know the answer to questions like that?! On close inspection, though, it looks like a python swallowing a pig: a smallish company tackling a big problem with COVID vaccines.

# 2020-Aug-07: What's that stupid avatar?

Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!

# 2020-Aug-01: What's happening in the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine phase 3 start?

Somebody asked me (really it’s the same “somebody” behind all of these) about the Moderna COVID vaccine phase 3 start. Basically, it looks like the start of a reasonably designed Phase 3 trial: the beginning of a long slog to test safety & efficacy.

# 2020-Jul-20: Math test post

Just seeing if I can make the math typesetting work. Nothing to see here, kid… move along.

# 2020-Jul-18: Lord Kelvin on quantitative knowledge

Qualitative knowledge is real, but… quantitative knowledge is almost always better.

# 2020-Jul-15: What's in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine?

Ok, so I finally tracked down the official Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine (whose Phase 3 delay we commented on about 10 days ago). Here are some quick thoughts, but the top line seems to be very good.

# 2020-Jul-05: And what about the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine Phase 3 delay?

Somebody asked me — same troublemakers, in case you’re curious — about whether the Moderna/Lonza Phase 1/2 vaccine trial looked reasonable and if the delay of Phase 3 start for a protocol amendment was reasonable. Sure seems so! No, it’s not an investment signal.